Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”
The hallways of the Hotel Cortez become a graveyard as this season of “American Horror Story” nears its end. The various storylines begin to collide leaving numerous characters dead and left to haunt the premises. “Battle Royale” is a definite high mark of the season and sets the stage for a thrilling finale.
The last episode ended with one of the greatest scenes in the history of the series; Iris and Liz storming into The Countess’ penthouse suite with their guns blazing as “Hotline Bling” plays. This episode picks right up in the middle of the action. The Countess takes several hits, but manages to scurry away while Donovan is left fatally wounded. Iris, shocked and horrified that Donovan was caught in the line of fire, shares a final moment with her dying son. Donovan begs Iris to make sure that he doesn’t die inside the hotel, as anyone that dies on the property is forced to spend eternity as a ghost haunting the hallways. With the help of Liz, Iris manages to drag Donovan to the street before he succumbs to his wounds.
Meanwhile, The Countess is revealed to have been saved by Sally who shares the story of how she came to be at the Hotel Cortez. In 1993, Sally was a songwriter for a pair of grunge music artists who shared in a mutual love for heroin. Sally and the two artists head over to the Cortez where the check into a room and get “really high” together. Sally then sews herself to the two so that they may be closer than ever, however, the two artists begin overdosing. Miss Evers appears and taunts Sally who pleads to call for help. Days pass and Sally is left sewn to her now deceased friends as the addiction demon appears and begins torturing her. She eventually rips herself away from the bodies leaving her emotionally damaged. While incredibly disturbing, Sally’s backstory was much needed and helps viewers to understand her motivations and reasons for being at the hotel. Sally saves The Countess using the blood of her vampire children to perform a transfusion. This deeply affects The Countess emotionally as her vampire children are left dead to save her.
Following the death of Donovan, Iris is left heartbroken and depressed. Liz presents the ashes of Donovan to Iris prompting her to creepily spread them on herself and all over a hotel room. Miss Evers cheerfully cleans up the mess as Iris takes a moment for herself on the hotel roof. Kathy Bates once again delivered a sensational performance by showing a grieving mother. She later teams up with Liz to free Ramona Royale, who is still locked away in a sealed off hallway of the hotel. Inside the hallway, the bodies of the vampire children litter the floors leaving Iris and Liz shocked; they also discover the corpse of Will Drake. Ramona reveals herself and attempts to attack a frightened Iris. Liz alerts Ramona that they all have a common goal, to kill The Countess. Ramona declares that she must feast on human blood before she will help.
Liz and Iris prepare to head out of the hotel to find a victim for Ramona when a familiar face appears in the hotel lobby. Fans of “American Horror Story” will immediately recognize Queenie (Gabourney Sidibe) from the series’ third season, “Coven.” Queenie is in town to be a contestant on “The Price is Right” and shares with Iris and Liz that she is guaranteed to be a contestant because the Supreme Witch blessed her ticket. Queenie is tricked into being Ramona’s meal, although, Queenie refuses to go down without a fight. Using her witch power as a human voodoo doll, she attempts to kill Ramona, but is suddenly stabbed by Mr. March. Ramona feasts on Queenie’s blood and presumably absorbs her powers. Angela Bassett gave yet another strong performance this episode after being horribly underused throughout the season.
Following her bloody meal, Ramona makes her way to the penthouse suite where she confronts The Countess. Ramona promises to kill The Countess, however, the two unexpectedly begin to resolve their differences. The Countess shares that she is finally ready to leave the hotel and the two have a final romantic fling. The Countess packs her bags and heads to the elevator to leave when John Lowe appears and begins shooting her relentlessly. John’s final murder in his Ten Commandments spree is complete; “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” is the basis for the murder of The Countess. Mr. March shares how proud he is of John for completing the murderous bout. Sally also congratulates John then proceeds to attack him with the intent of killing him so that he may return as a ghost; Mr. March, however, puts a stop to this.
The end of the episode shows Mr. March and Miss Evers preparing for The Countess’ return as a ghost. Mr. March is eager to spend time with The Countess, however, Miss Evers shows extreme jealousy towards her. Miss Evers reveals that she was the one that called the police to alert them of the murders committed by Mr. March. The promise of eternal life with Mr. March is established as the reasoning behind the actions of Miss Evers; this angers him and decides to banish Miss Evers. Mare Winningham and Evan Peters both delivered incredible performances and greatly helped to develop both characters.
“Battle Royale” is a fantastic penultimate episode for this season of “American Horror Story.” After a rather unevern season, the final set of episodes truly showcase the great heights this series can reach. Each character received their time to shine and helped to propel the story forward. What madness awaits the characters in next week’s season finale? Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 9 p.m. on FX.